I love to weave stories and tales into my magic. This photo was shot at the 2021 MN Renaissance Festival by Darin Jensen. The theme of the magical effect I am performing here is the classic Magician vs the Devil. The story is told in the words of a poem. I titled it The Young Lad and the Mysterious Stranger. Captured in this photo is the moment the young lad sells his soul to the Devil in exchange for incredible magical abilities. In the end he outsmarts and beats the Devil at his own game with some incredible card magic.
Over my many years of performing this style of magic I have found the audience gets drawn into the magic, they begin to care about what is happening, they are engaged, enriched, enchanted.
SLEIGHT OF HAND: The use of digital dexterity and cunning to deceive.
The sleight of hand artist relies upon digital skills to accomplish his illusions. These techniques are invisible to the audience. The juggler openly displays his hard earned skills. The sleight of hand artist hides them. They are concealed within natural movements and actions.
Beyond the finely acquired skills of his dexterous fingers the sleight of hand artist also relies upon other subtleties to accomplish his deceptions: Psychology and timing, language both verbal and physical, help him in deceiving all of the audience’s senses.
Sleight of hand is synonymous with the art of close up magic. It’s a form of magic performed within close proximity to the audience. The objects used are common everyday items, playing cards, coins, paper currency even cell phones. Though anything that fits into the artist’s hands becomes magical. This impromptu style of close range magic makes deception seem totally impossible, yet amazingly, the totally impossible still occurs.
What is close up magic? What is a close up magician?
Close up magic is the intimate art of producing astounding illusions by sleight of hand performed within close proximity to the audience.
The magical objects or props need to fit in the close up magician’s hands. The traditional props are playing cards, coins, cups & balls and even dice. However, anything that fits into the magician’s hands is fair game for his miracles; a cell phone, a pen, paper napkins, a saltshaker, a coffee cup or a dollar bill.
Unlike the stage performer the close up artist brings his magic right into the audience space. There’s no stage or curtains, no boxes or mirrors, simply an object in the magician’s hands held inches away from the spectator’s eyes. The magic often happens right in the spectator’s hand!
Under these strict, close up and challenging conditions, deception seems utterly impossible. Yet, miraculously, the totally impossible still occurs! Close up magic is by far the most demanding form of the magical arts and when done perfectly it is the most astounding!
Close-up magic is best performed for an audience of 30 or less and can be performed sitting at a table or standing. With the arrival of LSV (large screen video) technology larger groups can be accommodated.
Another form of close-up magic is strolling magic. This style has become popular for social and cocktail hours where guests are standing and mingling in small groups. The close-up magician moves around the room entertaining these smaller groups of guests. Street magic is also a form of close-up magic.
Photo & art credits:
Photo art manipulation by Steven Paul Carlson, portrait photo by Nick Olson
The Coin Magician’s Dream, photo art by Steven Carlson
In the art of close-up-magic, coin magic easily finds its place toward the top of the most challenging skills.
Coins, along with playing cards, are the primary objects in the close-up magician’s repertoire.
Historically coins predate playing cards by a good three to four thousand years.
Coins were first introduced as a method of payment around the 6th or 5th century BC and have been in the magician’s bag of tricks ever since.
In the magician’s hands coins appear, vanish and multiply. They magically move from place to place or from hand to hand, visibly and invisibly. Coins change from sliver to copper and even grow in size. The possibilities of magic with coins is limitless.
Coin magic relies upon the intricate dexterity of the artist. Dexterous skills acquired through years of practice, training and performance.
A master sleight of hand artist’s technique is never seen. To the audience it is invisible. These graceful methodologies lie gently hidden beneath the surface of natural movements and gestures. Only then does the coin magic appear effortless and impossible.
My name is Steven Paul Carlson, I have been practicing magic since I was 6 years old and I have been performing magic professionally for over 40 years.
So sit back and relax and enjoy the magical ride.
Oh, and please, fasten your seat belts. 😉
Photo & art credits:
Coin and photo art by Steven Paul Carlson, portrait photo by Nick Olson
Sleight of Hand Artist, Steven Carlson, performing his elegant style of close-up magic for guests at the beautiful Forepaugh’s Restaurant in St. Paul, MN. The magic event was on Halloween night, a tribute the great escape artist, Harry Houdini.
in 1899 Houdini’s career was going nowhere and he was seriously contemplating retirement from entertainment. But his big break came in St. Paul, MN at the Palm Garden beer hall, (less than a half mile away from the Forepaugh’s mansion) when he met manager Martin Beck. Beck, impressed with Houdini’s handcuff act, advised Houdini to concentrate on the escapes and booked him on the Orpheum vaudeville circuit. The rest is history.
Houdini died on Halloween in 1926 he was 52.
This is my dream studio. Someday, with a little luck and fortune, that will be where I hang my hat and create 😉
Antiquity of the Soul – Pastel 16” x 20”
One can see and feel the history etched into this man’s face and antiquity its-self reflecting in his eyes. I had great fun painting the bright colored head cloth with its intricate patterns, wrinkles and folds juxtaposed with his face and the similar intricate patterns. This is one of my all time favorite portraits.
I met an individual at an art show who was from this part of the world. He told me that the head wrap they wear, the colors and patterns, tells you what region the person is from. Fascinating!
Fa’er•ie gnomé or fa’er•y gnomé n
Pronounced fair-ee nohm
May the reader bear in mind, the information offered here regarding these very shy and illusive creatures, is based on only a small number of sightings since the history of the “big folk” began to be documented. Sightings of Faeriegnome dwellings are fortunately a little more common. Both these sources and recent archaeological discoveries help to provide us with our current knowledge of the Faeriegnome folk, their temperament, attributes and customs.
Faeriegnomes are ancient creatures, tiny, quiet and shy by nature. They were believed to be of simple gnome ancestry but they predate even the earliest gnomish records. They are much smaller than a gnome, but larger than the leaf faerie.
Faeriegnome architecture is known for its clever construction and unique creativity.
The unique coalescence of both the Fae and Gnome bloodlines seems to account for their vast magical abilities, their immeasurable ingenuity and ancient wisdom. It also explains their extreme diminutive size. The size of the average adult male, by their standard of measurement, would be about 54 to 63 digits or fingers, which would be about 2.5 to 5 cm or 1 to 2 inches tall.
Writings predating antiquity indicate Faeriegnomes were a part of the Great Earth Caretakers. Their ability to travel extremely long distances enabled them to keep a watchful eye on the delicate balances of nature. Assisting them in these earthly stewardship responsibilities were their ever present, always faithful walking sticks, ‘Astar’, as they call them. The wood of the astar was from a tree, bush or plant of unknown origin. Interestingly, the astar continued its growth despite being separated from the root. In fact, it had to be regularly pruned or it would quickly outgrow its owner! Ordinarily the astar was quite plain, but on occasion a particularly creative and fastidious Faeriegnome might adorn it with a little silver, gold, gems or even seashells.
The Harp Faerie, as she has been affectionately nicknamed, and like its pair Faerie I, feature the Matrifaerie, a mature, dignified and sophisticated faerie captured here while creating upon the woodland harp. The woodland harp, unlike any other musical instrument, is a living entity. It grows from out of the ground, blossoming and even bearing fruit. Its gossamer, web-like strings produce a sound that few are able to hear. Only the truly ingenuous spirit can perceive its atmospheric musical air. Sylvan dwellers are drawn to the magical recital and a rare, ethereal appearance from a musical muse can be seen if you look quickly.
The artistic and musical collaboration of Steven & Patricia inspired this beautiful title song which appears on Mrs. Carlson’s Creative Harp CD ‘Woodland Opus’.
India – pastel 16” x 20”
This stunning face still captivates me; it was an absolutely wonderful portrait to paint. It is one of those rare pieces of my own art that actually hangs in my house. 😉
The textures here also intrigued me; the necklace, the embroidery on her clothing and then creating the sheer effect of the veil.
Like the Viking portrait this too is rendered with pastels. It’s an intricate layering technique using different pastels with a final detail finish of pastel pencil. This layering process gives the portrait an oil painting, oil glaze look.
There are no prints of this work only the original.
The Queen of Hearts, with her charismatic charm, completely enthralls her eight suitors.
Originally I wrote a little story, about a princess, to fit the magical effect of this card trick.
Personally, I loved the story, but after years of performing and testing I found music to be the best accompaniment. I truly hope you enjoy!
Kevin MacLeod created the wonderful music! Let me tell you, Kevin’s one talented guy! Here’s his link.
“Sneaky Snitch” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/
© 2015 Steven Paul Carlson.
This video is copyrighted and may not be used without the written permission of Steven Paul Carlson
He was the young son of Bor, the father of the gods. He was a shapechanger, usually appearing as a vigorous man of fifty with long hair and braided beard, wearing the skins of animals and carrying his unfailing weapon called Gungnir. Here he is, in the ages before he gave up one of his eyes and before sacrificing his life in exchange for greater wisdom. Before the time when the other mighty gods would serve him as children serve their father, before he became the god most favored by the Vikings. His name is Odin, the god of the Norseman!
19” x 26” Pastel (LE prints available)
In magic we call this effect, a coin assembly. Coins magically move from one place to another as if attracted and then, in some cases, instantly return to their original locations. This version, of this classic, is particularly intriguing because this happens numerous times in different ways. My first post of this video did not have music so that is the reason for the new posting.
I hope you enjoy!
Music by Kevin MacLeod, “Not As It Seems” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/
The Four Season Faeries – Graphite 16” X 20”
Herald of the summer solstice; certainly the most care-free of all her sisters Summer Faerie maintains harmony between prolific spring and fruitful autumn with the long, warm, tranquil days of summertide.
The Faerie’s Secret
16”X20” Mixed medium
Twig Oaklyn Flewinia Thistlebottom…
Whew! That’s quite a name. Fortunately her friends know her simply as Twig, the fun, whimsical, magical faerie that graces the renaissance festivals. The young at heart, who are fortunate enough to meet her, often find themselves sprinkled with faerie dust and presented with a magical gem! But be aware, if you ask what the secret is in her hands, she will only answer with her flute. I hope you are fluent in double piped aulos.
Graphite 16” X 20”
This pencil drawing is still in progress. I sketched the original back in 1972, I was still in high school. My intention was to paint it however I never finished it and it has since been lost. I decided to start it up again and see where it would take me.
In high school I was very interested in this fascinating art movement called Surrealism. It greatly influenced my art at that stage of my young life.
Surrealism began around 1920 its objective was to combine incongruous images blending dream state with reality. Probably the most famous surrealists are Salvador Dali, Rene Magritte and Max Ernst. The word “surrealist” was coined by Guillaume Apollinaire.
Wizard III – The Family Portrait
Graphite on board 16” X 20” – printed on parchment
A rare moment of relaxation for a Wizard; pictured here in repose with his extended family, this Wizard, though very old, is an imposing figure. Even seated he exudes the unmistakable power and wisdom of a Wizard of the highest order. Standing to his full height he would reach seven feet. His magical wolf and owl companions are also considerably larger than their kin. Only his feline companion, T. Thomas Tiger, Esq., is natural in size. The hidden images of faeries, raptors, dragon and wizard faces enhance the magic and mystique of this limited edition creation.
For most of my professional art career, starting early 1970’s and still going today I have been an illustrator. This was one of my favorite commissions.
The Minnesota Twins 1st World Series Championship 1987. Game 1, Saturday, October 17 Dan Gladden hits a grand slam home run to cap off a seven-run fourth inning. –
Interesting note: The Twins came into the 1987 season number 13 out of the 14 American League teams. –
This piece of art was done for the Twins and WCCO Radio for the 1988 baseball pocket schedule. It was truly one of those great art commissions for me. I still have the original art.
The poem is my own creation. I have always been intrigued with the story line of someone making a deal with the devil. Then of course when it comes time to pay the bill (their soul) they try to wiggle out of the deal with one last game or challenge. I wrote the part of devil as one similar to a con artist playing the three-card Monte or the shell game.
The idea of telling a story or a poem as a background to a magical effect has also been of great interest to me. Storytelling and magic are two very powerful mediums and together they can pack quite a one-two punch.
The card effect is called Beat the Devil from Darwin Ortiz, Scams and Fantasies with Cards. I took the presentation idea of the magician vs. the Devil and created the poem.
I truly hope you enjoy it.
The style of magic that I perform is called Close-up Magic. This style of sleight of hand magic has been described as the ultimate experience in magical entertainment. It’s magic that is performed within inches of the audience and usually witnessed from all angles. This artistic form of close-up sleight of hand magic is by far the most challenging to perform. The up-close, intimate nature of this form of magic makes it the strongest form of magical entertainment.
The close-up magician’s props range from the common to the classic, from napkins, saltshakers and coffee cups to playing cards, coins and cups and balls.
Many of the magical items are elegantly hand crafted and are works of art in themselves!
William Frederick “Buffalo Bill” Cody
(February 26, 1846 – January 10, 1917)
American soldier, bison hunter and showman Buffalo Bill was born in the Iowa Territory (now the American state of Iowa), near LeClaire. He was one of the most colorful figures of the American Old West, and mostly famous for the shows he organized with cowboy themes. Buffalo Bill received the Medal of Honor in 1872.
Graphite on board 16 x 20 by Steven Paul Carlson, Gicleé prints available.
Pastel – Steven Paul Carlson
Suitably named the King of Beasts, the regal stature of this noble monarch is caught here in a moment of repose. The last rays of the setting Serengeti sun wash across his majestic face and mane. A nocturnal hunter by nature, the coming crepuscular hour marks the beginning of the lion’s workday.
Revered for its legendary strength and bravery, the lion has been a symbol of supremacy throughout recorded history. The full grown male conveys a grandeur and self-assurance like no other animal. His magnificent mane is reminiscent of a king’s ceremonial headdress or an Indian chief’s war bonnet. His roar, a low grumble building in intensity sends a vibrating signal throughout his domain and literally makes the earth quake. All these unique qualities, and more, make the lion the undisputed king of beasts, the Monarch of the Animal Kingdom.
Gicleé prints are available.
Every muscle relaxed with paws tucked in close, his lithe body low and snug to the terrain. Patient and motionless with perfect camouflage the leopard becomes virtually invisible to their prey. What animal can match this intense focus so unique to the feline? Whether it’s a big cat or small all cat owners are familiar with this distinct posture and look.
This is a gicleé print hand colored by the artist. Steven Paul Carlson